Updated: May 15, 2021
The human hadn't proved herself a liar. At least, not yet. Fiadh found her to be true to her word just a few hours later. The campsite was tucked into the rocky shore, sheltered within a discreet cove. She was wrapped in a old woolen cloak that smelled of wood smoke and salt, belly full of pan seared herring, her seal coat hung by the fire to dry. Delicate ribbons of steam rose from the wet fur, dancing with the sparks that floated up into the velvet dark sky.
Hunger sated and feeling relatively at ease, the selkie woman took a moment to really study the woman who had cut her free. Her metal skin was discarded in a careful pile, and she was dressed only in an off-white tunic a size or two too large, trousers, and a pair of boots. Her damp hair was wavy from her braid and loose about her shoulders. The firelight painted her face in flickering shades of gold. She looked softer than she had a right to. At least going by all of the human tales Fiadh had been told over her long years.
Soft and quiet, the human kept her distance. She moved with only slightly more grace on land than she had in the sea. It was amusing, almost endearing. On occasion, their eyes would meet across the fire and the woman's would crinkle at the corners in a kind smile. Fiadh looked away every time.
The evening wore on like that. Each of them dancing around the other. Keeping and respecting space. Curious glances.
It was late when the human woman spoke again, voice as soft as the rest of her. "I'll keep watch if you would like to try to sleep."
Fiadh sent a panicked gaze at her seal coat, then back to the woman. She found blue eyes studying her, as if trying to decode a particularly difficult puzzle. Her tongue darted out to wet her lips as she seemed to carefully weigh and measure her next words.
"It is likely dry by now," she said, gesturing vaguely at Fiadh's coat. "You should wrap up in it. It will keep you much warmer than that old thing about your shoulders."
The selkie woman wasted no time trading the old woolen cloak for her seal coat. The human woman stood and motioned to her own bedroll. "Rest there."
Curling up on the bedroll indicated, Fiadh watched as the woman methodically strapped herself back into her metal skin and picked up a sheathed blade, buckling it to her hip in a smooth motion. The woman turned her back toward the selkie woman and moved to the entrance of the cove where she leaned against the rock wall, eyes cast out over the shore, watching for any who might approach.
Fiadh tried to commit the image to memory before she couldn't fight her heavy eyes any longer and sleep pulled her under.
Eyes full of grit, body protesting, she groaned when she realized she must have dozed off in her armor. Her mouth felt like it was full of sand and when the first rays of morning sun filtered into her vision, she became painfully aware of the ache in her head. With an effort, she stood from where she had tucked herself into the rock face and stretched.
With a jolt, the events of the day before came flooding back to her. She turned quickly, nearly stumbling, to check on her guest. What she found instead was an empty bedroll. Her old folded cloak on top, a small knife placed with care nearby. And, to her shock, a delicately braided bracelet made from soft hair the color of midnight.
She had a strange flutter in her chest and a smile on her lips as the sun broke slowly over her face.
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